Sunday, February 14, 2010

In a PIGS' I

"The PIGS" is a funny term that's been used for at least a decade to refer to the Mediterranean countries in the EU -- Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain -- often with a less-than-positive "spin". Late last year I spotted a change in popular usage -- the "I" often switched to stand for Ireland instead of Italy (thus losing the peculiar Mediterranean connotation and going directly for the meaning of "Euro-economies in trouble") -- occasionally you now see PIIGS (so that both I-countries can be there, but losing the funny-acronym play of course), but when having to choose (to keep the single-I'd PIGS) I see why one might pick Ireland over Italy (it's not as if Italy's doing well, mind you, but with nominal GDP 2009 vs 2008 Y/Y per IMF data at -9.7%, vs -10.2% for Portugal and Spain and -15.3% for Ireland, you can kinda see the logic here -- BTW, Greece's theoretical -4.2% looks pretty dubious... as the NYT recently wrote, "there are lies, damned lies and Greek statistics";-). I can only find old data on pork consumption per capita by country, but it looks like, at least 10 years ago, Spain was the highest in the group (64 kg -- way higher than EU average), then Ireland (40.5), Italy (36.3), Portugal (31.1), Greece (22.5)... so maybe this criterion isn't exactly the most useful for the PIGS-classification debate...;-)